Little could they imagine as their son walked away from the farm with all his worldly goods over his shoulder that one day he would own hundreds of acres of Rockbridge and live the life of a lord of the manor.Over the next few years James tried his hand at what he knew best, the carding business, but each attempt failed to make a living, it was a highly competitive trade with many slave owners undercutting prices.
He needed to get his machine patented as soon as humanly possibly.Isaac Singer was busily patenting anything that could be used in sewing (as were hundreds of others). For both of his unique ideas, he applied for patents.I then set about fashioning this most intricate piece out of metal.It was a hugely time consuming effort." JG decided that he would hop on the train and head for Washington, the centre of new ideas in America at the time.Carding was a popular business as wool and cotton had to be disentangled from clumps of fibre into a continuous thread for cloth manufacture by the use of cards which were basic brushes with wire pins that stripped the wool into straight fibres.
In 1845 a fire broke out in his father's carding business, which he ran from a mill on the farm, and it completely destroyed everything.I could shape a piece of hard ivy into the different contours needed to grasp the thread and hold it for the necessary duration of the stitch formation.With the use of a steam kettle and a blade, after 47 separate and exasperating attempts, I found the ideal shape that performed the task.Some say the sewing machine represents the finest piece of '19th Century' precision engineering in the world.This is hard to argue with seeing that so many are still working on a daily basis 150 years later.The business ruined, James at the age of 16, decided to leave home and strike out on his own.